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Cancer 2.0

Exploring long-read sequencing technology and multimodal data to support earlier, faster diagnosis of cancer.

Gloved hand placing petri dish full of colourful liquid next to others

The next evolution in cancer technology and research

Since the launch of the 100,000 Genomes Project, researchers and clinicians have partnered with Genomics England to collect and analyse genomic and long-term clinical data (from health records) to gain insight into the nature of genetic changes that drive cancer evolution.

In the next step of our cancer programme, we are exploring two new technologies for the clinic and research: long-read sequencing and multi-modal data.

Aims of the initiative

Support better patient outcomes

Shorten the time it takes to receive accurate diagnostic results for the 300,000+ people diagnosed with cancer per year.

Help clinicians deliver personalised treatments

Explore the potential of sequencing technology to better support clinicians with their patient treatment decisions.

Create a world-class research asset for the UK

Make the country's genomic data richer by combining imaging, genomic, and clinical data for researchers to generate new insights into cancer.

What is multimodal data?

Cancer reveals itself to scientists in many different ways: as molecular features in the genome, at a very small scale in pathology images, and at a larger scale in radiology images like MRI and CT scans. In the past, these disciplines of genomics, pathology, and radiology have been very siloed and separate.

Our multimodal project combines data from all of these sources, as well as the clinical follow-up data from patients, and uses machine learning methods to look at all of them together.

We hope to identify new features of cancer that drive prognosis or response to specific treatments. This research project may lead to more sensitive diagnostic approaches that could be used in clinic.

What is long-read sequencing?

To treat cancers, we have to better understand them – and their DNA. Previously, DNA would be chopped into thousands of shorter sections. Each shorter section, or read, would be sequenced, and variants within those sections analysed.

Through this project, we are exploring the clinical potential of a new technique to sequence very long strands of individual DNA without the need to slice it up. This is long-read sequencing.

Long-read sequencing can reveal new information about whole regions and large structural features of the genome that were previously inaccessible to traditional sequencing. It will give insight into cancer that older technologies couldn't see that may reveal more accurate diagnoses and treatment for patients.

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